Friday, October 28, 2011

Upper Mekong Dams: China's dam plans don't hold water with panelists

China's dam plans don't hold water with panelists
Kristin Lynch, 19 October 2011
Phnom Penh Post

China's dam-building ambitions and alleged lack of transparency were
front and centre yesterday during a roundtable discussion on Mekong
River development held in the capital.

Representatives from the Chinese embassy defended their country's
record, claiming that China was "eager to participate" in regional
cooperation mechanisms.

"We aren�t dominating this river," embassy representative Xu Daizhu
said. "We want to cooperate with other countries in this region, and we
want to cooperate with each other to use the water resources in this

However, panelists accused the Asian power of irresponsible development.

"Chinese dams cause unprecedented social and environmental problems,
causing damage to agriculture, fishery forests and ways of life," said
fellow panelist Pou Sothirak, former minister of industry, mines and energy.

China is now the top builder of dams in Cambodia, Ame Trandem, Southeast
Asia Program Director for International Rivers, said yesterday.
Currently, five large Chinese dams have been approved in the Kingdom and
another four are under consideration, Trandem said, adding that four
dams constructed on the Mekong in Chinas Yunnan province were undertaken
without consulting China�s neighbours.

During yesterday's discussion, China�s transparency also came under
assault. "The Chinese government in the past has been keeping all the
information on the dams confidential," Pou Sothirak said. "If your
government would be so kind as to join the Mekong River Commission, that
would be a big gift, because joining means you need to release
everything openly." Trandem supported allegations of a lack of
transparency, saying that, "to date, China has failed to meet
international standards of accountability, transparency and public
participation." However, Xu Daizhu upheld China's commitment to regional
cooperation. "China is willing to listen, we aren�t closing our doors
and doing our own thing," she said. "That�s why I am here and learning
about your concerns."

This is International Rivers' mailing list on China's global footprint, and particularly Chinese investment in
international dam projects.

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Economic progress vs. cultural preservation in Ethiopia

Africa Rising: Economic progress vs. cultural preservation in Ethiopia

Ethiopia's state project to make it into one of the world's top sugar
producers requires the resettling of semi-nomadic herders in permanent
villages. Which priority wins out: cultural preservation or economic

By William Davison, Contributor / October 27, 2011

Ethiopia's Lower Omo Valley, a United Nations World Heritage Site along
the border with Kenya, is renowned for its numerous tribes, among them the
lip plate-inserting Mursi and bull-running Hamer.

Sixteen ethnic groups occupy the scorching, low-lying region, raising
cattle, and growing crops, often along the fertile banks of the Omo River
that wriggles its way through the bush.

Think you know Africa? Take our geography quiz.

Western tourists, archaeologists, and anthropologists are regular visitors
to observe the unique cultures and pre-human fossils.

But the Ethiopian government has begun a project to build sugar farms in
the area in an effort to take the nation into the top ten of global sugar
exporters. The plan, which would require resettling semi-nomadic herders
in permanent villages, puts the effort to modernize Ethiopia's archaic
agricultural system at loggerheads with the desire to preserve the
cultural identities of local ethnic groups.
A push for economic development

The state-run project launched this year � combined with other large-scale
farming investments irrigated by the outflow from an under-construction
hydropower dam � look likely to alter the area forever, initially for some
Bodi and Mursi communities who will be resettled to make way for the sugar

"They will still be pastoralists, but agro-pastoralists. They will not
roam around in search of water and grazing land," Abay Tsehaye, head of
the state-owned Sugar Corporation, says. "They will have enough grazing
land because we will supply them with irrigation."

The farms will be made possible by the regulated outflow from the upstream
Gibe III hydropower plant. The plant, which will almost double Ethiopia's
power generating capacity, is scheduled to be finished in 2013.

It will provide electricity to Ethiopia and also generate scarce foreign
exchange by supplying the region. Ethiopia's large hydropower potential �
due to plentiful rainfall in its highlands and mountainous terrain � is a
vital asset that must be utilized to bring the country out of poverty,
Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia's leader of two decades, says.

Roads have been improved, scrub land demarcated, and construction of a
diversion weir begun for the six plantations fed by the Omo that will
occupy at least one-eighth of the Lower Omo area and use 3 billion cubic
meters of water per year. Despite the progress, resettlement plans and
technical studies on the plantations have not yet been completed, the
Sugar Corporation says.

Mr. Abay says agricultural experts, irrigation schemes, and social
services will bring much-needed development to a neglected backwater.
Critics like Survival International, a British charity that campaigns for
the rights of indigenous people, argue communities' rights are being
trampled and that the water use will parch Lake Turkana, another World
Heritage Site that straddles the Ethiopia-Kenya border.

They want these people to remain as primitive as they used to be, as poor
as they used to be, as naked as they used to be so that they will be
specimen for research and an agenda for raising funds," Abay says about
the project's naysayers.

'I want my children to be pastoralists'

But while the government says it has had extensive consultation with the
communities, several members of the Bodi tribe, who number about 7,000,
say such claims are exaggerated.

"The government is building it themselves. They are not sharing it with
other people, they did not call a meeting," father of three, enrobed Dori
Bella, who moves every month to graze his cattle said in a new school just
outside the village of Hanna. "We don't want to be begging in town, I want
my children to be pastoralists."

Activists spoke of a widespread fear of reprisals for speaking out and
predicted armed resistance to what they see as a government land grab.

A report this month from Survival also claimed that over 100 individuals
from the Mursi and Bodi were arrested for protesting the plan. But locals
said that recent detainments were not directly related to the project.

As our Land Cruiser wound its way to the Omo valley along a sturdy gritted
track, a broken-down truck carrying panels for plantation workers' homes
almost blocked the road after failing to mount a steep incline � an
indication of the huge logistical challenges involved in bringing
commercial farming to this far-flung region.

The water extracted for the farms will result in a five-meter reduction in
the level of Lake Turkana and eventually fewer fish, according to Sean
Avery, an engineer who published a report on the area for the African
Development Bank in November. Concerns over effects on Turkana prompted a
UNESCO committee to make a futile call for the government to halt
construction of Gibe III in July. A "fragile environment and the
livelihoods of tribes" will be destroyed, Survival states.

For the several thousand Turkana and Dassenech people depending on the
lake for their livelihood, the future is uncertain.

Educated Kenyan fisherman Michael Irgeno from the Dassenech tribe believes
the dam is a mixed blessing. Power and irrigation are welcome for the
deprived regions, but "at this time it's bad as most people have not heard
about Gibe III," he says in the half-light of his domed hut near the
wind-lashed shore. "It would be better if people come together with one
mind and decide what to do," he says. "But if they start without informing
people it will have an effect. Most of our community is illiterate so it
is hard for them to have an opinion."

related story from August:
Ethiopia plans ambitious resettlement of people buffeted by East Africa

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ratification sought for next LHWP phase, separate $15bn power scheme unveiled

 Ratification sought for next Lesotho Highlands phase, separate $15bn power scheme is unveiled

27th October 2011
Updated 7 hours ago

The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) Phase 2 agreement, which would open the way for additional water and power to flow to South Africa from the mountain kingdom, would be submitted to Parliament for ratification following its approval this week by South Africa's Cabinet.

The agreement would seek to augment the original treaty, signed by the two countries in 1986, while addressing issues related to the operation and implementation of phase 2.

The water aspect of the project was likely to cost around R7.8-billion, including R2.4-billion for development of the Polihali Dam.

Capital expenditure would also be directed towards the building of tunnels worth R2-billion, new infrastructure worth R1.3-billion, engineering works worth R1.1-billion, administration costs of R335.6-million, environment expenses of R365.5-million and social costs of R363.3-million.

The government of Lesotho was also reportedly preparing to pursue a R7.6-billion hydropower project directly linked to the Phase 2 developments.

It is understood that LHWP Phase 2 could begin delivering water by 2020 for the augmentation of the Vaal System and that between 3 500 and 4 000 jobs could be generated during construction. Most of those employed would be Lesotho citizens, but it was possible that 15% of the jobs would go the way of South Africans.

The agreement that would be placed before South Africa's lawmakers would seek to allow for the development of Phase 2, which would augment the delivery of water in South Africa and also include a hydropower-generation dimension.


However, it also emerged this week that Lesotho was also aiming to pursue a larger and entirely separate scheme, known as the Lesotho Highlands Power Project (LHPP).

This initiative could involve investments of $15-billion (around R110-billion) to develop 6 000 MW of wind capacity and 4 000 MW of pumped-storage hydropower.

South African diversified industrial group Harrison & White Investments reported this week that it had joined forces with the Lesotho government to develop the LHPP wind and hydropower projects in a joint venture called Breeze Power.

Breeze Power indicated in a statement that the project would be funded through a combination of debt and equity, with the major debt partners including Chinese financial institutions.

It also said the development would be delivered in phases over the next 10 to 15 years, with the first phase consisting of a 150 MW wind farm, work on which would commence in early 2012 with commissioning a year later.

The electricity would be sold to South Africa, with Lesotho already connected to the Eskom power grid.

Breeze Power had also signed an agreement with Chinese technology partner Ming Yang Wind Power, whereby wind turbine components would be made in factories in South Africa and Lesotho. Construction of these facilities could commence early in 2012, Breeze Power said.

Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter   

Sustainable Hydropower: A New Flow of Ideas

Sustainable Hydropower: A New Flow of Ideas
Posted by Daniel Kammen of World Bank October 25, 2011

What can be done to diversify our clean energy technology options? In
recent years we have seen a number of seemingly �old� technologies
undergo a reassessment, and a reinvention. Geothermal power, once
assessed as �an excellent source of baseload energy, but likely
limited in commercially exploitable capacity� has undergone a

Here�s the new view in the latest IPCC Special Report on Renewable
Energy Sources:

In 2008, global geothermal energy use represented only about 0.1
percent of the global primary energy supply. However, by 2050,
geothermal could meet roughly 3 percent of the global electricity
demand and 5 percent of the global demand for heating and cooling.

That dramatic expansion of scope � a factor of 15 on a global scale �
is a function of new technology options and forecasts for higher
fossil fuel prices. But it is only one example.

Another technology undergoing a dramatic expansion of options is that
of hydropower. Conventional dams, large and small, use either a
natural, or more commonly, an artificial �head� or drop to harness

Thus, the energy available is increased with higher dam, and thus a
larger flooded reservoir for conventional dams. Therein lies the
problem of big dams that inundate ecosystems, displacing people and
wildlife, and in some cases � ironically � generating large amounts of
greenhouse gas emissions from the decomposition of flooded, submerged,

(Related: �Two Rivers: The Chance to Export Power Divides Southeast
Asia� and map: �Exploiting a Land of Plenty�)

Some dams have even caused earthquakes.

Enter so called �hydrokinetic� energy technologies. Conventional dams
alter the river, creating artificial lakes. In hydrokinetic power
plants, the energy does not come from falling water, but by extracting
the kinetic (movement) energy from the water.

This is very exciting because new turbines, nozzles and indeed
innovations in everything from jet engines to ocean craft to the
design of pipes can come into play to extract energy from flowing
water. Hydrokinetic systems are applicable in both river and ocean
currents, and can reduce the need for reservoirs and disruption of
waterways dramatically, because no- or minimal- storage of water is
needed. The array of hydrokinetic options is dizzying, and is a
wonderful and promising field of innovation. A recent survey
published in Applied Energy noted no fewer than ten promising options:

Turbine Systems:

- Axial (Horizontal): Rotational axis of rotor is parallel to the
incoming water stream (employing lift or drag type blades)

- Vertical: Rotational axis of rotor is vertical to the water surface
and also orthogonal to the incoming water stream (employing lift or
drag type blades)

- Cross-flow: Rotational axis of rotor is parallel to the water
surface but orthogonal to the incoming water stream (employing lift or
drag type blades)

- Venturi: Accelerated water resulting from a choke system (that
creates pressure gradient) is used to run an in-built or on-shore

- Gravitational vortex: Artificially induced vortex (via funnels)
effect is used in driving a vertical turbine

Non-turbine Systems:

- Flutter Vane: Systems that are based on the principle of power
generation from hydroelastic resonance (�flutter�) in free-flowing water

- Piezoelectric: Piezo-property (charge accumulation or current
generation in response to mechanical force in some specific materials)
of polymers is utilized for electricity generation when a sheet of
such material is placed in the water stream

- Vortex induced vibration: Employs vibrations resulting from vortices
forming and shedding on the downstream side of a bluff body in a current

- Oscillating hydrofoil: Vertical oscillation of hydrofoils can be
utilized in generating pressurized fluids and subsequent turbine

- Sails: Employs drag motion of linearly/circularly moving sheets of
foils placed in a water stream

There is a still a great deal to do in terms of technological
reliability, cost, and how to scale these to be megawatt, or tens of
megawatts, or more. Large conventional dams can be anything up to
many giga-watts in scale. In an earlier blog (�Building a New Nation
and New Energy in South Sudan�) I described the Fula Rapids on the
White Nile, a location as powerful as it is beautiful, where energy
production and river conservation may be a great candidate for this

It is nice to see evolving technology, particularly one thought of by
many as mature and unchanging, up for a wave of innovation.

(Related: �New Dam a Go and a Blow to Megafishes?� and �Will Dam
Removal in the West Restore Salmon?�)

Daniel Kammen is the World Bank�s chief technical specialist for
renewable energy and energy efficiency. He is an adviser to National
Geographic�s Great Energy Challenge initiative.

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China Water Risk website goes live

China Water Risk Goes Live!
China Water Risk is a non-profit initiative dedicated to addressing
business and environmental risk.

Topical water issues are highlighted through our Analysis & Reviews,
Opinions and Interviews with captains of industry, investors, academia
and water experts. Read opinions and interviews on addressing water
risks from Sodexo, Li & Fung, Swire Beverages, SAB Miller, Coca-Cola,
Intel, and more… or get Intelligence by Sector for Agriculture, Food
&Beverage, Power, Metals & Mining, Textiles, and Electronics.

Stay ahead of the risk curve visit us on:

Water in China: Why Worry?

* 11 regions in China are water scarce with water resources
comparable to the Middle East.
* The economy runs on water - 85% of water use in China by
agriculture and industry; experts project that demand for water may not
be met by 2030.
* The Dry 11 regions' total Gross Regional Product contribution to
China's GDP = 45%.
* Pollution exacerbates scarcity. Already 77% of key lakes and
reservoirs monitored are unfit for human touch.
* Food and energy security issues - The Dry 11 account for 40% of
agricultural output value and 95.6% of power in China requires water to
* Water is undervalued given scarcity; water tariffs hikes could
erode profit margins.

Contact Us:
If you have questions, please send us an e-mail at

China Water Risk
9 Queen's Road Central
Suite 2406
Hong Kong -

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Two articles on emerging technologies in China

[Two articles on emerging technologies in China, one on tidal power, and
a longer piece on an investment by China Southern Power Grid in smart
grid technologies - from the US perspective.]

China's tidal power development speeds up
(China Economic Net)
October 25, 2011

Edited and Translated by Zhao Guobing, People's Daily Online

"Tidal power generation has the same working theory as hydropower. You
have to build dams aside lochs or river mouths where the tide emerges
and place hydroelectric generating sets in the dams so that they can
generate power due to the difference of tides level. From the angle of
energy, hydroelectric generating sets translate tide static energy and
kinetic energy into electric energy," said Yu Rongkai, official director
of the Rushan Blue Economic Zone.

China has abundant resources of tidal power. It has more than 18,000
kilometers of mainland coastline and more than 14,000 kilometers of
coastline possessed by more than 5,000 islands. According to an
incomplete statistics, China has a tidal power reserve of 190 million
kilowatts, 38.5 million kilowatts of which is available for development,
giving an annual output of 87 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.
Citing the China Ocean Energy Resources Division, 424 tidal power
stations can be built along the coastline, mainly in maritime provinces
like Zhejiang and Fujian.

China began to build tidal power stations in the middle of 20th century.
Rushan, which is in Shandong province, possesses Asia's first tidal
power station — Jingang Tidal Power Station — which was built several
decades ago. Baishakou Tidal Power Station, which was built in 1987, is
the second largest tidal power station in China.

Yu Rongkai's added that tidal power is more reliable than wind power and
solar power because it has the following advantages: stability, requires
no farmland, environmental-friendly, its cost is seven-eighths less
compared to thermal power generation. Thanks to years of pilot study,
China has mastered a moderately mature technology and is now the third
largest tidal power generation country following France and Canada.


China Pours Money Into Smart Grid Technology
October 25, 2011
By Melanie Hart, Center for American Progress

[For the full article, see:]

There is no way to get around this fact—China aims to modernize its
energy infrastructure at home and dominate clean energy technology
markets abroad. At the 2011 Smart Grid World Forum in Beijing late last
month, China's State Grid Corporation announced plans to invest $250
billion in electric power infrastructure upgrades over the next five
years, of which $45 billion is earmarked for smart grid technologies.
According to its three-stage plan, China will invest another $240
billion between 2016 and 2020 (including another $45 billion toward
smart grid technologies) to complete the build-out of a "stronger,
smarter" Chinese power grid.

When complete, this system will improve energy efficiency, lower carbon
emissions, and give Chinese consumers more control over their utility
bills. Chinese leaders are betting that upgrading to a smarter
electricity grid will also drive technology innovation and move the
country up the manufacturing value chain. The Chinese view smart grid
technology as the next industrial revolution—and they want to make sure
that once other countries start upgrading their own grids, they will buy
most of their equipment from China.
clean-energy power grid, Western states

This issue brief details why the United States should take note of
China's ambitions and step up our own smart grid efforts. We, too, need
a stronger, smarter electricity grid, and in many smart grid sectors,
our enterprises are already producing the best technologies. All they
need is a bit more policy support at home to speed up interoperability,
to drive down equipment prices, and to ensure the smart grid revolution
will be a market driver not only for China but also for the United
States both at home and in export markets abroad.

What is a smart grid and why does China need one?

The main difference between a smart grid and a conventional grid is that
smart grid components (similar to smartphones) are upgraded to include
sensors, computers, and a wireless interface. That means the bits and
pieces of the electric grid—the transmission wires, transformers,
distribution wires, and usage meters—transmit and distribute electricity
more efficiently and reliably to end users, and they can also report
back on how that process is going and adjust operations along the line
to fit changing conditions.

This smart functionality is critical for integrating key elements of a
clean energy future, such as renewable power generation and electric
vehicles. Unlike traditional coal-fired power, renewable power can be
decentralized (multiple wind farms instead of one massive coal-fired
power plant) and is often weather dependent. Conventional grid systems
are designed to transfer a steady and predictable flow of power from
point A to point B. When a thunderstorm reduces solar panel output or
increases wind turbine output, those power fluctuations can trigger
blackouts and burnouts in a conventional grid system. But a smarter grid
can adjust, either by storing excess energy in batteries until it is
needed or by moving power more efficiently across longer distances.

Smarter grids are also better at handling higher and more variable
demand loads, and that will be critical when more electric vehicles are
added to the system. Current consumer demand is very predictable, so
utility companies know exactly what times of the day to purchase and
distribute extra power to counteract daily peaks. Electric vehicles
likely will not follow traditional consumption patterns—meaning demand
peaks will be harder to anticipate—and that will create new operational
challenges that will be hard to address without a more automated system.

The Chinese need more clean energy to meet their escalating electricity
demand, and that will require a smarter grid. China is now the world's
largest electricity consumer, and Chinese demand is expected to double
over the next decade, and triple by 2035. Their current energy mix is
heavily dependent on coal—around 70 percent of overall consumption in
2010—and coal supply and price fluctuations are threatening economic
growth. In 2011, for example, coal shortages forced China's national
economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, to
begin rationing electricity in April, months ahead of the normal summer

To comply with the rationing, officials in China's power-hungry
industrial regions cut off power to small enterprises from 5:30 a.m. to
7:00 p.m. daily and to medium-sized enterprises every few days. This
forced many small- and medium-sized companies to operate only at night
or to rely on pricey gas-fired power generators to keep their businesses

The only way Chinese leaders can keep their economy growing at current
rates is to bring in more renewable energy power onto their national
grids. Their latest targets call for the country to increase renewable
energy to 9.5 percent of overall consumption by 2015, and a smarter
electricity grid will be critical for integrating those supplies into
the system.

The Chinese are also grappling with a major geographic issue. Energy
supplies are concentrated in the west (including coal, natural gas,
hydropower, and large wind farms), but demand is concentrated in the
east, which creates major transportation challenges. China's
west-to-east grid infrastructure is already overloaded, so coal supplies
are often shipped via rail and road. Problem is, transport bottlenecks
are so bad that in 2010 coal trucks triggered a month-long traffic jam
on the Beijing-Zhangjiakou highway.

To relieve congestion, the Chinese want to shift more west-to-east
transport to the grid, so a large chunk of China's upcoming grid
investments (around $78 billion out of the $250 billion mentioned above)
will go toward cross-country ultra-high-voltage transmission lines.

Killing two birds with one stone

As is the case throughout the green energy sector, Chinese leaders are
betting that if they can roll out a smarter electricity grid before the
United States, China can not only address their domestic energy
challenges but also get a head start on technology standardization. And
they see standardization as a critical step toward moving up the value
chain and playing a stronger role in global technology markets.

China's electricity market is divided geographically. China's State Grid
Corporation controls 88 percent of the country and serves more than 1
billion customers, and State Grid wants to leverage that position to
become a global smart grid standard setter. Smart grid networks involve
hundreds of new technologies, from wireless sensors and smart meters to
high-voltage transmission technologies, electrical vehicle charging
stations, and many others. State Grid is aiming to dominate many of
those industries, not only in China but also abroad.

In June 2010 State Grid issued its own proprietary equipment standards
for 22 different critical smart grid technology solutions. Equipment
manufacturers must abide by those proprietary standards to become State
Grid vendors, and since State Grid is the biggest smart grid customer in
the world, equipment manufacturers have a strong incentive to comply.

In most markets, equipment based on proprietary standards such as the
ones State Grid would like to see developed for its forthcoming smart
grid do not have good economies of scale because their equipment is
expensive to produce and less competitive compared to equipment based on
global standards. State Grid is betting that the Chinese market is big
enough (and they themselves control so much of it, including both
transmission and distribution) that they can use their massive
purchasing power to achieve economy of scale and drive down
manufacturing prices on their own.

Then, once Chinese manufacturers (many of which are State Grid
subsidiaries) are churning out competitively priced smart grid products,
they can export those same products to overseas markets such as the
United States—and if those products are based on State Grid proprietary
standards and intellectual property, the company will profit from every
unit sold.

It is not yet clear how strongly China's national leaders support State
Grid's one-grid-to-rule-them-all technology ambitions. Some in China are
calling for a new round of restructuring to make the market more
competitive and to reduce State Grid's massive purchasing (and therefore
standard-setting) power. China's National Development and Reform
Commission recently called for a new round of trials to experiment with
splitting up electricity transmission and distribution. If they proceed
with those reforms, that will take a big chunk of the market away from
State Grid.

No matter how they divide the market at home, however, Chinese leaders
have already elevated smart grid development to a strategic national
priority. Smart grid technologies are also considered a "strategic
emerging industry." Overall, that means that whoever drives the market,
whether it is State Grid acting alone or a more diversified group of
Chinese enterprises, Chinese leaders will provide strong policy support,
and China's massive domestic demand will ensure that the country becomes
a major player in global technology markets.

[continued at:]

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Green energy developers flock to Kenya

International Investors In Kenya Energy Sector

News Date: 22nd October 2011

International investors are flocking into Kenya's liberalized energy
sector to engage in the generation of electricity from wind and
geothermal-powered turbines to earn carbon credits.

Kenya's electric power generation, largely dominated by water- powered
turbines, is gradually seeking to shift the more dependable geothermal
and wind powered plants due to the effects of climate change, which
has sparked off ecological damage.

The country's seven folks scheme, a combination of dams drawing its
waters from forests and deep dams has witnessed the dwindling of water
supplies due to the cutting down of trees and poor rainfall, sparked
by unpredictable weather patterns.

East Africa's worst drought in decades left most hydropower dams drier
and with less water to support peak generation and the Arab Springs
sent oil prices skyrocketing.

The World Bank and local Kenyan financial institutions are emerging as
key financiers of the "green energy" drive in Kenya. The focus has
been on the expansion of geothermal power and the construction of wind-
powered plants.

Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga said this month the country is
short of the required finances to increase supply of electricity, a
key ingredient for reaching the UN Millennium Development Goals and
providing electricity to some 10 million rural folks.

Addressing a recent energy conference in Europe, Odinga said rural
electrification had improved lifestyles, allowing more people to own
and use mobile phones.

The electricity expansion also enabled local clinics and medical
facilities in rural areas to preserve vaccines. Pre-term babies are
also being given a lease of life.

Currently, the World Bank is supporting a geothermal power project
that is providing clean energy in Kenya to help the country facing
ongoing energy shortages.

Through its private insurance wing, the MIGA, the Multilateral
Investment Guarantee Agency, the Bank offered insurance cover to
Orpower 4 Inc, power plant in Olkaria in Naivasha, 100 km outside
capital, Nairobi.

"The insurance cover is for risks such as transfer restriction,
expropriation, war and civil disturbance, cover additional equity
investment of 110 million U.S dollars," the Bank announced recently.

The power plant is the first private geothermal power plant in sub-
Saharan Africa. Phase III of the project is set for completion in
2013. It would inject 84 megawatts of power, 7.6 percent of the
nation's current generation.

"The country is heavily reliant on hydropower which is seriously
constrained during droughts. As a result, Kenya imports fossil fuels
to fill the growing demand for electricity," the World Bank said in a
recent statement.

An increase in indigenous geothermal generation will guarantee a more
reliable supply of energy while reducing Carbon Dioxide emissions.

The existing plant has been registered as a Clean Development
Mechanism (CMD), recognized by the UN Framework Convention on Climate
Change (UNFCC).

The project is expected to produce carbon reduction of 180,000 tons
per year.

Odinga said with only 200 megawatts of geothermal capacity so far
exploited against the peak of 7,000 megawatts, there was room for
foreign investors to help tap the massive potential. Kenya, requires
investments of 18 billion dollars into energy sector to tap at least
5,000 megawatts of geothermal power.

Kenyan firms are amongst a chosen few in the carbon trade under the UN-
monitored CMD, yet the state environmental policy has lagged behind in
supporting the trade.

In 2009, the ministry of environment announced plans to develop
strategies that would allow local firms to trade carbon credits. Under
CMD, registered projects can sell credit and earn millions of dollars.

Foreign investors, backed by local banks, have been planning the
construction of some of Africa's largest wind-powered plants.

Dutch companies are behind a 300 MW wind farm on Lake Turkana, funded
by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

The Turkana project is estimated to cost 870 million dollars, and to
produce 30 percent of Kenya's electricity. It is also expected to
launch operations in 2012.

The first in a series of wind firms under construction is expected to
begin operations in April 2012. The wind-powered plant located in
Kinangop, is expected to generate about 60 MW.

A Danish firm, Vestas, has also put up a wind-powered turbine at the
Ngong Hills, on the outskirts of Nairobi to tap 51 MW of power.

Other projects include the Olkaria geothermal project expansion, to
generate 52 MW, the Ngong Hills project is expected to inject 100 MW
while the Oleleshwa wind Energy Limited in Kinangop, will inject 60 MW.

Kenyan government is offering guarantees to the projects to enable
them receive bank loans. The Kinangop plant has received 600 million
dollars in loans guarantees.

Demand for geothermal power is growing at 4.5 percent each year while
the state generating firm, KENGEN, plans to open a gas powered plant.

"We will be the largest and first large-scale wind power project in
Africa," the Managing director of the Kinangop power project. "Mostly,
the project is funded locally and around 26 MW would be produced

Source: GNA

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Gov'ts Fail to Invest in Hungriest, Poorest Regions

AFRICA: Gov'ts Fail to Invest in Hungriest, Poorest Regions

By Stephen Leahy

CHANGWON, South Korea, Oct 21 (IPS) � For millennia, people have coped
with drought in the Horn of Africa, comprised mainly of drylands. Yet
today, more than 13 million people there are starving because of
political instability, poor government policies and failure to invest
in the world's poorest people, say experts here in Changwon.

2.5 billion dollars in humanitarian aid is needed to cope with a
devastating hunger crisis in parts of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and
Two billion people, half of whom are extremely impoverished, live in
drylands around the world, according to Anne Juepner of the Drylands
Development Centre at the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Nairobi.

"Drylands are not wastelands, as is often thought. More than half of
the world's cattle, sheep, goats and most of its grains are grown in
drylands," Juepner told IPS in an interview outside of the United
Nations Convention to Combat Desertification 10th Conference of the
Parties (COP 10) in Changwon.

Juepner is here to launch UNDP's "The Forgotten Billion", a report to
call attention to the fact that despite its productivity, drylands
that comprise one third of the world's land mass are also home to
world's poorest and most at-risk people.

Drylands include the Great Plains of North America, the Pampas in
Argentina and the wheat regions of the Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Major
cities like Los Angeles, Mexico City, Delhi, Cairo and Beijing are
situated in drylands.

Although much of North America is drylands and suffers from land
degradation, it is the rural drylands in developing countries where
the poorest people are found. They are often neglected or ignored by
their own countries and by development organisations, said Juepner.

Many have survived for thousands of years in very dry conditions, but
they live on the edge of survival. If governments impose borders or
create protected or settlement areas to restrict the movement of
pastoralists and their animals, a drought can tip them into crisis.

Governments often invest very little in infrastructure like roads and
schools in these poor regions. Similarly, development agencies and
other donors don't think these are the best places to make
investments, according to Juepner.

Successive droughts have plagued much of Kenya, leaving some with
literally nothing and making recovery nearly impossible without
assistance. "Small targeted investments in affected communities can
help them recover," she said.

A small UNDP project helps the Turkana people in northwest Kenya turn
aloe vera plants into hand soap that is in high demand at local
markets. According to Juepner, these types of low-cost investments,
not annual humanitarian responses, are effective in preventing crises.

Some of that massive sum of 2.5 billion dollars for disaster response
for the Horn of Africa needs to be allocated to those kinds of
investment to increase the resilience and ability of local communities
to adapt, Juepner said.

Pastoralism is often thought of as a lifestyle that is either
backwards or highly risky, and nomads, otherwise known as
pastoralists, are often blamed for degrading land. But in fact,
research now shows that drylands are adapted to livestock and animal
movement and suffer when they are removed.

"Degraded lands recover much faster with right number of livestock
than when animals are fenced out," Juepner said.

Mobile pastoralism is part of the solution to the crisis, said Pablo
Manzano, global coordinator of the World Initiative for Sustainable
Pastoralism. Being mobile is the best way to adapt to shifting
rainfall patterns, as pastoralists have been for thousands of years,
emulating the migrations of wild animals.

Mobility is also critical for adapting to a changing climate, he said.

Irrigated crop farming is expensive and not a panacea for food
security problems in drylands, as irrigation schemes exhaust water
resources and lead to conflicts with pastorialists, Manzano told IPS
in Changwon.

Land tenure is key to ensuring pastoralists can control and manage
lands properly. Political boundaries also impose arbitrary barriers.
"In the Horn of Africa, not a single border runs along cultural or
ecological lines," he said.

Long-term strategies, which have been key during other food crises,
should be based on allowing people to move with their livestock across
manmade boundaries.

Famines are more related to political turmoil, and in fact, the
current crisis in the Horn of Africa was predicted a year ago, Manzano
said. He added that political instability and war in Somalia are the
main reasons why four million Somalis are in desperate straits.

"This crisis (in Horn of Africa) has been going on for 20 years, so we
must change the way we work," said David Morley, president and CEO of
the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Canada.

Preventing drought-related famine requires investing in the
development of small business to provide extra income for
pastorialists, Morley said in a release. They also need flexible
schooling, decentralized health services and local management of water

"The key is to listen to and learn from the community."


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Ethiopia's Hydroelectric Program - Boon or Folly?

Ethiopia's Hydroelectric Program - Boon or Folly?

Written by John Daly
Monday, 24 October 2011 12:48

Developing countries worldwide view the construction of power
facilities as integral to their economic development to lift their
populations out of poverty. Ethiopia has now embarked on massive
hydroelectric schemes currently involving the construction of two
large dams, but the Ethiopian government�s obdurate refusal to
consider the potential environmental and political impacts of its
efforts to become the �energy hub� of East Africa have generated
rising concerns not only in Ethiopia but neighboring nations depending
on the country�s water flows.

Two projects have elicited local, regional and international concerns.
The first is the 1,870 megawatt $2.2 billion Gilgel Gibe III dam on
the Omo River, which threatens the unique ecology of Lake Turkana on
the Kenyan-Ethiopian border, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The second is the projected 5,000 megawatt $5 billion Grand Ethiopian
Renaissance Dam, formerly known as the Millennium Dam, on the Blue
Nile, which the Ethiopian government is pressing forward despite
rising concern in downstream states Sudan and Egypt about the
potential impact of the facilities on the lower Nile�s water flows.

In its rush to construction, in 2009 Addis Ababa issued an
environmental impact assessment (EIA) statement for Gilgel Gibe III on
the long-term consequences of the dams� construction, but only two
years after construction began. The resultant report was regarded as
so flawed that the World Bank, European Investment Bank, and the
African Development Bank abandoned the project.

Ethiopia more recently has not even bothered to issue an EIA
evaluation report for the proposed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam,
despite the fact that such evaluations are critical for assessing the
potential impact of the hydroelectric cascades and remain an essential
element in securing international funding.

Italy�s Salini Costruttori was awarded no-bid contracts to build both
the Gilgel Gibe III and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam and a
Chinese state-owned bank has approved funding for Gilgel Gibe III
despite the project being dogged by controversy from the outset. A
2009 independent feasibility study submitted to the African
Development Bank questioned the structural stability of the dam,
saying that the risk of a catastrophic failure was "not insignificant."

Last July the UN�s World Heritage Committee said that the Gilgel Gibe
III dam, Ethiopia�s largest investment project, would endanger the
existence of Lake Turkana, which receives up to 90 percent of its
water from the Omo River, by lowering its water level by up to sixty
feet, affecting more than 300,000 people downstream from the facility
as well as increasing salinity and wreaking havoc on the lake�s unique
flora and fauna. In 1997 the Omo River basin and Lake Turkana received
UNESCO World Heritage Site listings. The UN�s Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination has also urged Ethiopia to
suspend the project, fearing its impact on local communities. Experts
fear that the the Gilgel Gibe III dam could suffer 50-75 percent
leakage of waters from its reservoir due to multiple fractures in the
basalt rock at the planned reservoir site and note that the area is
also seismically active. Nevertheless, the project is moving forward.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is brazening out public
criticism, promising to complete Gilgel Gibe III the facility "at any
cost," complaining that his critics "don�t want to see developed
Africa; they want us to remain undeveloped and backward to serve their
tourists as a museum." Upping the ante, three months ago Ethiopia
announced that it would build four additional dams on the Blue Nile
that will work in conjunction with the Gilgel Gibe III and Grand
Ethiopian Renaissance Dam to generate more than 15,000 megawatts of
electricity and last month Ethiopia�s Ministry of Water and Energy
announced that Gilgel Gibe III facility is now 46 percent complete.

If Gilgel Gibe III threatens the Omo River and Lake Turkana and
Ethiopian and Kenyan water flows, it is the $5 billion Grand Ethiopian
Renaissance Dam, whose cornerstone was laid last March, that could
unsettle Ethiopia�s relations with its downstream neighbors down to
the Mediterranean, Egypt most of all.

Egypt relies on the Nile for most of its water supply and Ethiopia�s
Lake Tana is the source of the Blue Nile, which contributes 86 percent
of the water arriving at Egypt�s Aswan High Dam. The White Nile�s main
source is Lake Victoria, whose shoreline is shared by Uganda, Tanzania
and Kenya and which joins the Blue Nile south of Khartoum.

Nile water access issues are rooted in history, as 82 years ago
Britain as East Africa�s dominant colonial power effectively handed
Egypt the lion�s share of Nilotic waters in a 1929 accord. Under terms
of the agreement Egypt had and currently maintains its historic right
to three-quarters of the Nile�s water, 55.5 billion cubic meters that
it annually diverts of the Nile�s total flow of roughly 84 billion
cubic meters. Under the 1929 agreement Sudan, before South Sudan
became independent in July, was apportioned a further 11 percent of
the Nile�s waters, leaving the other littoral states to share the
remainder. Under terms of the accord Egypt has persistently vetoed
neighboring countries' rights to build dams or irrigation projects
upstream which might affect the river's flow.

In 1959, when Egypt and Sudan were independent but all Nile upstream
states except Ethiopia were still colonies, Egypt and Sudan signed a
bilateral convention that essentially reaffirmed the 1929 accord and
left only 10 percent of the Nile's water to the seven upstream
countries, arguing that upstream nations had significant rainfall,
unlike Egypt or Sudan. Instability, poor governance, lack of finances
and the availability of other water sources left the issue largely
dormant until the 1990s, when Nilotic governments seriously started to
consider using their Nile Basin waters to generate energy and irrigate

In the 1999 Nile Basin Initiative (NBI) emerged as a basin-wide
program between Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania,
Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo to modify the
terms of the 1929 agreement, but it has thus far failed to achieve any
significant progress.

Given the lack of NBI progress, on 14 May 2010 Ethiopia, Tanzania,
Uganda, and Rwanda signed a new water-sharing proposal, the "River
Nile Basin Cooperative Framework," also known as the Entebbe
Agreement, which both Egypt and Sudan rejected. Until recently Cairo
continued to demand a veto power over any projects implemented
upstream in southern Nile nations and pushed international donors such
as the World Bank, NBI�s main fiscal backer, to cut funding to the
renegade Entebbe Agreement signatories.

As an indication of how seriously the Egyptian government took the
Entebbe Agreement, the same month that it was signed responsibility
for the Nile basin dispute was removed from Egypt�s Water and Foreign
Affairs Ministries and given to Egypt's intelligence and security
chief Omar Suleiman, who in February handed over power to the military
after Mubarak resigned. Scrambling to utilize its Nilotic waters more
efficiently, Egypt has succeeded over the last several decades in
increasing its arable land by 25 percent only through extensive and
expensive canal systems and increasing use of expensive imported
fertilizers, which any diminution of flow would threaten.

As for Egyptian concerns about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
diverting downstream flows, they are well aware of such issues, as it
took 12 years beginning in 1964 to fill the Aswan High Dam�s Lake
Nasser reservoir with 11 cubic kilometers of waters, which now drive
12 turbines generating 2,100 megawatts, less than half the power
output of the proposed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

Far from addressing Egyptian environmental concerns, the Ethiopian
government has not even bothered to issue an EIA for the Grand
Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which some hydrological specialists predict
that in filling its reservoir will cause a 25 percent annual reduction
in river flow to Egypt, as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
reservoir�s volume would be about equivalent to the annual flow of the
Nile at the Sudanese-Egyptian border, roughly 65.5 billion cubic meters.

The �Arab Spring� that overthrew the regime of Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak in February has resulted in Egypt�s interim government
showing new signs of flexibility on Nile water issues. Last month
Egyptian Interim Prime Minister Essam Sharaf met with Zenawi in Cairo
and agreed to set up a technical team to study the impact of the Grand
Ethiopian Renaissance Dam while Zernawi, on an obvious charm offensive
to secure international financial backing, agreed to host Egyptian and
Sudanese officials to prove that the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
will not be used to irrigate any of the large corporate farms the
Ethiopian government has leased to foreign investors in recent years,
but instead be used solely to generate electricity, adding that his
government will delay ratifying the 2010 Entebbe Agreement. Several
months ago Ethiopia said it would be forced to finance the Grand
Ethiopian Renaissance Dam itself and from the sale of government bonds
because Egypt was pressuring donor countries and international lenders
not to fund its dam projects.

And both structures are largely about electricity exports. If
completed, Gilgel Gibe III alone will double Ethiopia�s hydroelectric
total installed capacity from its 2007 level of 814 megawatts. In
April Zenawi announced that Ethiopia plans to produce as much as 8,000
megawatts of additional electricity from hydropower sources by 2016 as
various projects come online.

While Ethiopia reportedly has "initial agreements" to export
electricity to Sudan, Dijibouti, and Kenya, critics of the
hydroelectric projects emphasize that the majority of Africans are not
connected to the power grid, and that Ethiopia will be generating far
more electricity than it or its neighbors can currently utilize.

The projected future environmental water stresses of the Nile basin�s
population make for grim reading. Washington DC�s Population
Reference Bureau has developed some unsettling statistics for
countries along the Nile, estimating that Egypt's population of 80
million is expected to reach 122 million by 2050. During the same
period Ethiopia�s 83 million population will soar to 150 million and
in Uganda, with one of the highest birthrates in the world, the
population is expected to more than triple from its current level of
32 million to 97 million.

While East Africa�s efforts to improve their standards of living with
increased electricity resources, it is questionable whether a massive
commitment to hydroelectric power is the only option. The surging
demographics of the region combined with the potential environmental
impacts of massive hydroelectric projects along the world�s longest
river, combined with Ethiopia�s refusal to provide EIAs should give
all international investors pause before underwriting such massive
undertakings. The waters of the Nile are finite and will soon support
a population greater than the United States, and water diversions for
such projects can only increase national and regional tensions.

It is good that Egypt is now willing to talk, but even more important
that Ethiopia be willing to listen. If the international community
wishes to support Ethiopia�s efforts to become East Africa�s energy
�hub,� then it should request transparency about the environmental
consequences of such extravagant hydrological projects and their
impact not only in Ethiopia but their neighbors along the shared river
basins which geography has bequeathed them.

By. John C.K. Daly of

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Renewables for E.Africa: Better than unreliable hydro

This article has a strong message that hydrodependence is risky for

EU firm develops clean energy in Tanzania, Uganda

Monday, 17 October 2011 07:41

John Msangi

DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA - In a bid to ensure substantial reductions
of greenhouse gas emissions in the East African Community region, the
European Union (EU) has awarded Camco International Ltd to undertake
the green energy development projects in Tanzania and Uganda.

According to the report from the EU, a sum of US$ 1.8 will see the two
projects take off.

The EU says the first contract, will see Camco develop a $1.0 million
solar photovoltaic clusters project in Tanzania in which small-scale
solar systems will be installed in 15,000 homes in Lake Victoria
region over the next three years.

Under the second contract, the United Kingdom-based firm, Camco
International Ltd will provide technical assistance to the Belgian
Development Agency to develop clean energy projects worth $800,000 in

The Minister for Energy and Minerals, William Ngeleja told the East
African Business Week that the solar photovoltaic clusters project
gears on the vision of the energy sector which aims at effectively
contributing to the growth of the national economy and thereby improve
the standard of living for the entire nation in a sustainable and
environmentally sound manner. "I assure the project developers that
the Government will give them all the support they need in a way to
implement the project which I believe will takes into account the need
for improving access of environmental friendly modern energy
services," said Minister Ngeleja.

He said that the energy policy in Tanzania recognizes the importance
of private sector participation in development of energy sector which
is the engine of industrial investment in the country.

He further said that, the project has come at a time when the
Government is struggling to ensure sustainable and reliable power.
"Projects like this, in the near future will untie the country from
relying on unpredictable power sources", he said.

Speaking with the East African Business Week in Dar es Salaam
Ambassador Tim Clarke, the Head of European Union Delegation to
Tanzania said that Tanzania and the rest of the EAC region have to
adopt solar power to light up their communities because it is
reliable, renewable energy and cheap to install and maintain.

He said that the Government should avoid over dependence on hydropower
due because in resent years, the world has been facing unpredictable,
unreliable climate change that can not sustain or ensure the
availability of rain to feed the power dams.

Ambassador Clarke stressed : "The EAC region has to change its mindset
of reliance on hydropower source because, as is the present case in
Tanzania, prolonged drought has gravely affected electricity
generation, and plunged the country into loses to business, industrial
production, disrupted social activities and inconveniences to the

The Camco President, Yariv Cohen, said his firm has been developing
'green energy development projects' in Africa for the past 20 years
and for the past years there has been a clear change in energy sector
in different countries.

"We have been witnessing speed of green energy market development,
supported by international bodies, African governments, and local
communities on the ground and in the near future it will lead to
substantial reductions of greenhouse gas emissions," said Cohen.
"We will also collaborate with manufacturers, project developers and
technology providers by using the existing proven technology to
develop clean energy projects in Uganda in a way to ensure successful
clean energy that will lead to substantial reductions of greenhouse
gas emissions," said Cohen.

He said that Camco have been developing clean energy projects under
both the Kyoto Protocol and the unregulated voluntary carbon offset

Camco have been working with companies throughout the world to create
advanced projects that deliver clean energy, largely from waste

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Climate Change Puts the World’s Water Infrastructure In Danger

Climate Change Puts the World�s Water Infrastructure In Danger

by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
September 29, 2011

The effects of climate change put water infrastructure in danger,
particularly in the developing world, according to a paper published
in the scientific journal PLoS Biology. Not just water infrastructure
is in danger, either. Two of the effects of climate change are
droughts and floods which, in addition to harming water
infrastructure, can disrupt food supplies and even the global economy.
Two examples from last year are the floods in Pakistan which ruined
crops, and the drought in Russia which caused a grain embargo.

The paper uses several examples to illustrate how climate change
effects can extend from the developed world to the developing world,
including the 2008 intensification of the drought in Australia.
According to the paper, the intensification of the Australian drought
contributed to the increase in food prices in India.

Old dams could be in trouble. The Hoover dam in the Colorado River
basin is cited as an example. The Hoover dam�s design, created in the
1930s, is based on a 30-year period with some of the highest
precipitation rates of the past millennium. Lake Mead now stores only
about 30 percent of its designed capacity, which puts the region�s
cities, agriculture and energy production in danger. Lake Mead
supplies water for Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Hydropower projects are in a boon cycle in the developing world, which
puts governments at risk for defaulting on loans from development
investors. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD) projects that 40 percent of all development investments are at
risk from climate change.

Developing countries are not the only ones whose water infrastructure
is at risk from climate change. Lead author of the paper, John
Matthews, Director of Freshwater Climate Change at Conservation
International, said that the policies of Colorado River, which
supplies part of Southern California�s water, influence the the
infrastructure of much of the western U.S. Those policies, according
to Matthews, �were based on an enormous hydrological error about the
amount of water that would available in the future � in the time we
are living now.�

�The infrastructure we�re building worldwide right now is based on the
same assumptions that we made back then,� Matthews added. �We run a
huge risk of making poor nations poorer and accelerating the decline
of species and ecosystems through bad development investments.�

The authors of paper recommend a three-step process for conservation
science to provide practical decision making tools for funding,
designing and operating water infrastructure:

Consider alternatives to building new infrastructure
Explicitly integrate ecosystems into infrastructure development
Reduce the vulnerability of the infrastructure and its impacted
ecosystems over the operational lifetime of the project

The conservation community should make �climate-sustainable water
resource management� part of its long-term strategy to help regions
adjust to the future effects of climate change, the paper concludes.
�Given the risks for human communities and ecosystems from climate
change, ecologists working in the developing world need to think more
like development economists, and economists need to think more like
ecologists,� the paper states.

In other words, climate change (and its very real effects) calls for
paradigm shifts. Whether both developing and developed countries will
make those shifts remains to be seen.

Read more:

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Lessons from Burma's stopped Myitsone Dam for China

A lesson dam lobby looks set to ignore
Halt to construction of a barrage in Myanmar should be an eye-opener for
its Chinese builders, but it's unlikely to give dam boosters pause for

Shi Jiangtao
South China Morning Post
October 20, 2011

China's growing ambition to tap into the latent power of international
rivers hit a major snag when one of its largest hydropower projects
abroad was unexpectedly halted in Myanmar late last month.

The suspension of the Myitsone dam project on the Irrawaddy River was
seen as a rare victory in a nation long ruled by an authoritarian
military regime. It was also read as the latest step in a diplomatic
balancing act by Myanmar aimed at wooing the West and its Southeast
Asian neighbours by showing the country is no longer so dependent on China.

The controversy should sound all too familiar to mainlanders, aside from
the relatively happy result - for the moment - in the Myanmar case. But
what lessons should be learned from the dispute over the Myitsone dam?

The fact that China has been snubbed by a long-time political ally that
was once dependent on its political and financial support is extremely
telling for environmentalists about how unpopular China's reckless push
for big dams and its keenness to flex its economic muscle beyond its
borders have been.

Myanmar's new president, Thein Sein, who visited China just five months
ago after taking office in March, announced the decision to halt the
US$3.6 billion project on the eve of China's National Day, saying the
dam was "contrary to the will of the people".

The Myitsone dam, as part of a hydropower development deal including a
further six mega dams on the Irrawaddy and its tributaries, was
reportedly initiated in 2005 between Myanmar's then junta chief, Than
Shwe, and President Hu Jintao .

At a cost of US$20 billion and with a total capacity of 20,000
megawatts, the dams, being built or planned by China Power Investment
Corporation (CPIC), were seen as a symbol of China's growing regional
influence. Mainland media dubbed them China's overseas Three Gorges Dam
project. But the Myitsone dam, in the ethnic Kachin region near
Myanmar's northern border with China, has long been a magnet for
criticism, protests and even violence by local people and green groups.

Apart from concerns about potential ecological destruction on the
Irrawaddy and the resettlement of 10,000 people, locals were aggrieved
that 90 per cent of electricity generated by the dam was supposed to go
to power-hungry China.

The dam, with a capacity of up to 6,000 MW, was allowed to go ahead in
2009 despite the CPIC and Beijing allegedly giving the cold shoulder to
various local concerns.

Home to roughly half of the world's biggest dams, China is the world's
largest producer of hydropower and the largest dam builder in the global
market, according to International Rivers, a US-based NGO.

However, China's dam builders and financiers - usually power companies
with a national monopoly and banks that are often criticised at home for
their blind pursuit of economic profits at the expense of environmental
and community welfare - seem to have made little, if any, progress when
it comes to business dealings abroad.

Such insensitivity to local needs and environmental concerns, as well as
a lack of transparency about dam construction projects on rivers that
cross China's borders and in political hot spots, have not only provoked
hard feelings that threaten to ruin their business opportunities but
have also made China the unwanted focal point of numerous controversies
in recent years.

Environmentalists have warned that China's global image and its
friendships with affected countries, such as Myanmar - friendships that
are often the result of years of political patronage - are also at stake.

Last year, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, one of China's
Big Four state banks, made international headlines with its plan to help
finance the controversial Gibe 3 dam in Ethiopia, the largest hydropower
project in sub-Saharan Africa.

China's plan to build a cascade of eight dams on the upper reaches of
the Lancang (Mekong) River in Yunnan , four of which are already in
operation, has long been a source of tensions with downstream countries
such as Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

These countries have often accused China of manipulating water flow with
its dams, which they blame for severe droughts in recent years, and say
the Chinese dams are killing their mother river.

"The authoritarian government in Myanmar has taught China a lesson, as
they appear to be willing to heed public concerns," Professor Yu
Xiaogang , founder of the Yunnan-based Green Watershed NGO, said.

He noted that Chinese companies were used to pouring investment mainly
into undemocratic countries, where they could focus on forging ties with
authoritarian governments while ignoring environmental and social costs
and public opinions. Yu said: "Things have changed a lot with the rising
environmental awareness, and this type of business strategy has been
subject to mounting challenges and is doomed to fail."

With increasing publicity and awareness about the grave risks inherent
in the building of large dams, best exemplified by the Three Gorges Dam,
dam construction has been one of the most contentious issues on the
mainland in the past decade. Although it has slowed since 2004, Beijing
has renewed its push for big dams to be built in the coming decade as
hydropower has gained in importance as the pillar of China's
clean-energy drive. As a result, hydropower capacity is expected to rise
by half to 300,000 MW by 2015.

Despite growing public support, environmentalists have been largely
unable to influence the decision-making process or help those affected
make their voices heard.

Liu Shukun , a professor of hydraulics at the China Institute of Water
Resources and Hydropower Research, said that unlike Myanmar, China was
unlikely to see a victory of public opinion in the debate over
hydropower, given the development-minded government and powerful
interest groups.

"The Myanmar case is encouraging, but I don't think it can be replicated
here in China or help prevent the social and environmental havoc, given
the damage already caused by the damming of rivers," he said.

"We are good at talking about sustainable development, but it remains a
question whether it has turned into reality."
Copyright 2011 South China Morning Post Ltd.All Rights Reserved
South China Morning Post

This is International Rivers' mailing list on China's global footprint, and particularly Chinese investment in
international dam projects.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

China's hydropower output down 24.5 pct in September

China's hydropower output down 24.5 pct in September
17 October 2011
Xinhua News
Editor: Wang Guanqun

BEIJING, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- China's hydropower output dropped 24.5
percent year-on-year to 56.87 billion kilowatt-hours (kwh) in September
as a result of decreased runoff from major rivers, according to the
nation's top economic planner.

The September decrease was 9.9 percentage points higher than August's
decrease, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in
a statement on its website.

As of the end of September, the adjustable water and hydropower reserves
of the country's major hydropower plants stood at 104.9 billion cubic
meters and 28.1 billion kwh, down 18.5 percent and 36 percent
year-on-year, respectively, the NDRC said.

The dramatic drop in hydropower reserves will have a negative effect on
electricity production and supply, the NDRC noted.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

South Africa launches 2010-2030 Renewable Energy Plan

South Africa launches 2010-2030 Renewable Energy Plan
october 15, 2011
Includes 1,850 MW of onshore wind energy, 1,450 MW of solar energy
photovoltaic, 200 MW of concentrating solar thermal power, 100 MW of
biogas-fuelled plants and 75 MW of hydroelectric.

The first tender was launched (3725 MW to be achieved by 2016) of a
programme aimed at building 17,800 MW by 2030, accounting for 42% of
the additional electricity capacity that is planned to be installed by

The preferred bidders to supply South Africa with renewable energy, as
called for in the country's Integrated Resource Plan for 2010 to 2030,
will be announced at the UN climate summit starting in Durban on 28

South Africa�s Department of Energy launched the first phase of an
international tender for the construction of renewable energy plants
totaling 3,725 MW by 2016.

The assignment will have to be completed over the next three years and
will consist of several phases. The first stage will end during the UN
Climate Conference (COP-17) that will be held in Durban, South Africa,
from November 28th. to December 9th. 2011.

The allotment of these projects, whose total worth is estimated at
about $11 billion, includes 1,850 MW of onshore wind power, 1,450 MW
of solar energy photovoltaic, 200 MW of concentrating solar thermal
power, 100 MW of biogas-fuelled plants and 75 MW of hydroelectric.
Other small plants with a total capacity of 100 MW will also be
included in the plan.

South Africa's first commercial wind farm, the R75-million (US$8-
million) Darling wind farm, powered up in May 2008 with four wind
turbines, each generating 1.3 MW of clean energy.

The South African government announced its satisfaction for the fact
that the tender has roused considerable interest. Indeed, over 270
potentially interested companies have paid the taxes required to
receive bid documentation.

This is the first tender included in the "Integrated Resource Plan for
2010 to 2030" that was approved last year. The Plan aims to add 17,800
MW of electricity from renewable sources by 2030, accounting for 42%
of the overall new electricity generation.

Currently South Africa�s energy system is strongly dependent on coal,
which meets 72% of primary energy needs and more than 84% of the
electricity demand.

Among the requirements expected of bidders is that they submit
environmental authorisation as well as shareholder agreements.
Potential bidders are also expected to show achievement of economic
development threshold.

State electricity company Eskom will be the designated buyer and will
provide connection to the power grid, excluding municipal connections.

"We have received 321 applications for grid connection mainly for wind
energy and photovoltaic)," said Eskom head of delivery Kannan

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Sinohydro warns it is vulnerable to risk overseas

Sinohydro warns it is vulnerable to risk overseas
World's No1 dam builder will raise 13.5 billion yuan in Shanghai share
sale - but some projects may be costly
Toh Han Shih
South China Morning Post, Oct 18, 2011

Sinohydro Group, which lists in Shanghai today, faces growing political
and financial risks with its rapidly increasing international business.

The Chinese state-owned enterprise is the world's biggest dam builder,
having built two-thirds of the country's dams - and half of the world's.

It has continuing and completed projects in over 50 countries.

Sinohydro will issue three billion A shares at 4.50 yuan each, raising
13.5 billion yuan (HK$16.37 billion) from its Shanghai offer, the
company has said. The funds raised will be 22 per cent less than it had
previously aimed for because of weak market conditions, but it will
still be one of Shanghai's biggest IPOs this year.

"In its overseas operations, the company is susceptible to political,
economic and diplomatic risks," warns Sinohydro's prospectus, citing as
an example the raging civil war in Libya, where the company had 2.22
billion yuan of project assets in February.

"The standards of international projects are those of the developed
nations of Europe and USA, especially in quality control, safety and
environment, which are very demanding. It is difficult for China's
practices to meet such high standards. There are deficiencies in many
areas between China's technical standards and international standards,"
the prospectus says.

According to Grace Mang, the China global programme co-ordinator for
non-governmental organisation International Rivers, the company is
"engaged in some destructive dam projects".

She said Sinohydro is currently completing feasibility studies for the
Pak Lay dam planned on the Mekong River in Laos. The dam would threaten
the Mekong River's ecology and the well-being of millions of people who
depend on the river for food, income and transport, she said.

Sinohydro is also conducting feasibility studies to develop the Tasang
dam on the Salween River in Myanmar, Mang said.

"The dam faces violent local opposition. Over 50,000 people have
petitioned for the suspension of the dam," she said.

"As Sinohydro has quickly become the market leader in the global
hydropower sector, it is exposed to greater scrutiny by media and
international civil society for its participation in controversial

"Sinohydro's reputational risks are likely to increase as it takes on
projects where it has more responsibilities as a financier and
developer," Mang said.

In the past two years, it has announced two "build, own and transfer"
projects, including seven dams worth US$2 billion along the Nam Ou River
in Laos.

It is drafting a sustainability framework for its global operations,
which is deemed important in helping the firm overcome its deficiency in
international standards, and will demonstrate the company is a
worthwhile investment, Mang added.

The world has not fully recovered from the 2008 financial crisis, warns
Sinohydro's prospectus: "If a major reversal occurs in international
financial markets, the company risks a decline in international and
domestic demand."

Sinohydro's new overseas contracts jumped 53.6 per cent to 45.7 billion
yuan last year. During the first half of this year, it won 22.1 billion
yuan of overseas contracts.

International revenue accounted for 26.6 per cent of Sinohydro's
turnover in the first half, which totalled 50.68 billion yuan, while net
profit amounted to 1.82 billion yuan.

This is International Rivers' mailing list on China's global footprint, and particularly Chinese investment in
international dam projects.

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Huge dam in Kenya proposed

Nairobi Star (Nairobi)
Kenya: Sh150 Billion Set Aside for Nithi Dam

Kirimi Murithi

12 October 2011

Construction of the second largest dam in Africa is due to start at a cost of USD1.5 billion in Tharaka Nithi and Mwingi counties. The project is funded by the African Development Bank, the Government of Italy, Japan International Corperative Agency, Arab Development Bank and the Government of Kenya.

According to sources close to the steering management, the project funding proposal is approved and the ways of addressing environment and social economics effects of the project are being carried out. The multibillion project has thrown various government ministries into disagreement where most of them are seeking to exercise direct control of the funds and others want to be partners into the project.

These ministries include that of Agriculture, Arid Lands Development, Water, Vision 2030 and Special Programmes. The dam which will be the second largest apart from the Aswan High Dam in Egypt will encompass several components such as water for irrigation, domestic use, forestry aspect and hydro power generation with main water source being River Tana and others which flow in these two counties.
On completion the irrigation schemes will be carried out in three counties: Tharaka Nithi, Mwingi and Tana River. Hydro power generation centres will be in Mwingi while forestry will be carried out in Tharaka region. Experts believe hydro power generation from the grand falls high dam will be triple that of the seven folks system.

Much of the dam will be situated in Tharaka where several people will be relocated from their residence and be compensated for disturbance. It is estimated that more than 30,000 people will be moved in Tharaka Nithi County since the project will consume 100 percent of Kamanyaki location, 98% of Kamarandi location, 25% of Gituma and Ciakariga locations, 30% of Maragua and 20% of lower Marimanti Location.

Similar but w/ more background on resetttlement problems:

Our News, Our Society

Ksh. 150 b dam project aimed at eradicating hunger in Tharaka, Mwingi and Tana River

Construction of the second largest dam in Africa is due to start at a cost of US $ 1.5 billion in Tharaka Nithi and Mwingi Counties through funding by African Development Bank, Government of Italy, JICA, Arab Development bank and the Government of Kenya.

According to sources close to the steering management, the project funding proposal is approved and the ways of addressing environment and social economics effects of the project are being carried out.

The multi billion project has thrown various government ministries into disagreements where most of them are seeking to exercise direct control of the funds and others want to be partners into the project.

These ministries include that of Agriculture, Arid Lands development, Water, Vision 2030 development and special programmes.

The dam which will be the second largest apart from the Aswan High Dam in Egypt will encompass several components such as water for irrigation, Domestic use, forestry aspect and hydro power generation with main water source being River Tana and others which flow in these two counties.

On completion the irrigation schemes will be carried out in three counties which are Tharaka Nithi, Mwingi and Tana River whereas hydro power generation centers will be in Mwingi while forestry will be done in Tharaka region.

It is estimated that the hydro power generation from the Grand falls high dam will be triple that of the seven folks system.

Much of the dam will be situated in Tharaka where several people will be relocated from their residence and be compensated for disturbance.

It is estimated that more than 30,000 people will be moved in Tharaka Nithi County since the project will consume 100 percent of Kamanyaki location, 98% of Kamarandi location, 25% of Gituma and Ciakariga locations, 30% of Maragua and 20% of lower Marimanti Location.

According to Prof. Kithure Kindiki a lead lawyer from the region who has been at the helm of steering the project, the people from the areas that will be affected are being pushed to be in the Rapid Results Initiative of the Ministry of Lands so that they can be wholly compensated once the project starts.

"We want them to have titles before the project commences because compensation will be hastened. People may be paid money but we suggest they be absorbed within the community because there will be a sizeable urban migration", said Kindiki.

He further allays fear that due to cultural issues such as burial sites and the fact that most of the residents of Tharaka are peasant farmers there might be causes of conflicts.

"Some people who will be compensated might misuse the funds and start causing other social economic problems that might not feature in the current feasibility research that is going on. We need civic education to be done to them and they be shown a way in which they can form an organization so that they can carry on with their lives smoothly", adds Kindiki.

Kindiki further expounds that the ecology of the region will be affected since the terrestrial lives such as lizards, snakes and other animals found in the region will be disrupted.

Kindiki further proposes that if there could be a way in which the project can be done in phases along the Tana, would be better to avoid displacing a greater population in one area or if possible reducing the acreage.

By Martin Murithi

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chinese government plans a role in the transmission of energy from Belo Monte Dam (Brazil)

This is an unofficial translation of a Portuguese-language article which
appeared in "Valor Econ�mico" (

Chinese government plans a role in the transmission of energy from Belo
Monte Dam (Brazil)

Claudia Schuffner, Valor published 10/11/2011.

Original link:

Largest power company and the world's seventh largest company listed
among the Fortune 500, the Chinese state-owned State Grid Brazil
Holdings made another acquisition in the country. Just bought, for $205
million, an entire building and the new Avenida Presidente Vargas in Rio
de Janeiro. It's a step in the installation of the company that has
invested nearly $ 3.5 billion in the country since last year. The
amounts were spent on the acquisition of seven power transmission
companies controlled by the Full Broadcasters, the Spanish Elecnor,
Isolux, Abengoa and Cobra for $1.89 billion and discharge of a loan of
$1.338 billion from the National Bank for Development Economico e Social

With the acquisition of the building, which will be used initially only
the last five floors, the State Grid's investment comes to $3.433
billion. But this may be just the beginning. Cai (pronounced Chai)
Hongxian, CEO and board of directors in Brazil, said the appetite for
the country is not a passenger.

The executive, who left China in 2010 to live in Rio, is interested in
disputing the concession to build the transmission lines that will
transmit 11,223 megawatts (MW) of energy that will be generated by
hydroelectric Belo Monte for the rest of Brazil, but that's not it.
While the market awaits definition of the Energy Research Company (EPE)
on the design and other technical details of this line - which will be
auctioned in 2012 and is still in design phase - the State Grid seeks
partnerships. State Grid is interested in partnerships with companies
that have Brazilian (state and private) and international projects for
generation of any source is hydroelectric, wind, biomass and solar. The
search for partners involves projects in Brazil and other Latin American
countries. Among the companies that have had conversations with the
Chinese Hongxian mentioned Copel, AES, Cemig Alupar, Eletronorte and
Network Group. With Eletrobras memorandum of understanding was signed to
develop projects together. With the National System Operator (ONS) a
memorandum provides for exchange of technology and the philosophy of the
State Grid.

The acquisition of the building is cited by the president as a
demonstration that the country is in long-term plans. "Brazil is
experiencing an economic boom, will host the World Cup and the Olympics
and, more importantly, is a large market. That's what caught our
attention. It is one of the BRICs," Hongxian responds when asked why the
Brazil is the second target of the State Grid foray abroad since it was
created by the Chinese government in 2002. The first was the
Philippines, which has 40% stake in the company that operates the
transmission network in the country, the National Grid Corporation of

In the interview, the first since the arrival in the country, the
executive said that the fears are unfounded denationalization of
industrial equipment with Chinese input, and also comes forward saying
the company has no plans to import cheap labor from China. "It does not
exist. Would be too expensive to bring people and their families to work
here. We want to Brazilians," said Hongxian. "We did not come to destroy
the energy industry in Brazil. We want to work with local partners and
share experiences. No one need worry."

He seems familiar with the concerns surrounding the arrival of an
integrated energy company controlled by the Chinese government and meets
80% of the population of his country with the amazing number of 1
billion consumers (80% of the population of China, including Tibet). The
State Grid has numbers superlatives: it employs 1.5 million workers,
revenues of $ 240.6 billion in 2010 and operates in 88% of China.

The generation capacity in December 2010 was 962.19 gigawatts (GW) -
Brazilian eight times the capacity of 113.32 GW - and that since 2002
has grown at an astonishing rate of 12.39% per year. The State Grid
Corporation of China (SGCC) operates 618,800 km of transmission lines,
and the largest, 1,900 km of lines of 800 kV DC, has no similar in
Brazil. Compared with these numbers, Eletrobras is a medium-sized company.

There are few competition concerns in China to have this power. When she
got the full, in May 2010, some executives interviewed said they were
concerned by the value given the ease of access to the capital of
China's low cost and very cheap equipment manufactured in their own
country, not to mention the extremely low cost of labor.

Hongxian know the fears. And made sure to emphasize during the
three-hour interview that there is nothing to fear. "We came to work
with partners. The State Grid is huge in China but in Brazil is a
newcomer. There is nothing to fear."

And insisted on two points that explain, in his view, need to be better
understood on the company. "We have no subsidy. The Chinese government
does not subsidize companies abroad. And though subsidiaries of state,
they go to countries to act in accordance with local regulations and be
competitive as any other, as equals," he said.

Concerning the acquisition of equipment in the country of origin,
Hongxian states that the account is not so simple. "In China (the
equipment) is cheaper than in Brazil. But in terms of freight, customs
duties and taxes, these products do not become as competitive as they
would if they were on Chinese territory. This is all being studied.
Depending on the product tariffs are 70% to 80% may make it impossible
that such a strategy. "

This is International Rivers' mailing list on China's global footprint, and particularly Chinese investment in
international dam projects.

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